text and photo by: Frank Hilario
The Zero Waste Philippines’ Movement was launched October 7 at the Development Academy of the Philippines in Pasig City, with Ruth P. Briones, Chair and CEO of Greenergy Solutions, as Lead Convenor. Neric Acosta, legislator, environmental advocate and principal author of Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, was Co-Convenor.
“You have to deal with the reality that every one of us, every single day of our life we generate garbage, refuse,” Acosta said in his keynote speech delivered during the forum.
He then called for a paradigm shift, a change in perspective. “For mainstreaming green consciousness,” he said, “we have to see these as opportunities,” instead of as problems. Acosta notes that garbage can be recycled, reused, and recaptured by technology.
Acosta discussed what he called the 3 I’s necessary to change obstacles to opportunities when it comes to waste:
*Information – “We have to know exactly how much waste we produce, we generate, so that we will be able to know in terms of intervention, how much is recyclable. This is the “knowledge base from which systems of intervention can flow out of.”
*Innovations – The systems of intervention are the innovations, the range of technological mechanisms, approaches that can be taken to manage the waste. That includes the hardware (technologies) and software (management).
*Investments - These comprise “how much money we can put into these innovations.” Costs and returns.
But, Acosta said that while the 3 I’s are simple enough and doable even for local government units, the LGUs will not able to move a single ton of waste towards the proper management of it if there is no paradigm shift. “Is the Mayor green-minded?” he asked. “Does he understand that these are not only environmental issues but instead are fundamental issues that have to do with our very survival (on Planet Earth)?”
Even if the Mayor understands the law, the policy, Acosta said, if the Mayor does not have a green paradigm, if he does not understand that “economics ay kaakibat ng ecological imperatives” (literally, “allied with”), he is not going anywhere. You cannot have economics without ecology, he said. He recalled that when he was a Congressman defending the Clean Air Bill as principal sponsor, Congressman Joker Arroyo said something about solving the problem of jobs first before the problem of waste. Acosta answered back and said, “Aanhin naman po ang pera kung patay na ang ilog?”
Briones, for her part, envisioned the Philippines moving towards a “Green Culture” – and the consensus was that the clean & green efforts must all begin from the source of the waste, such as the home, farm and factory.
The forum featured a presentation by Eligio Ildefonso, deputy executive director of the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC). According to him, a law on solid waste management has been implemented and there are only 360, out of the total 1,500 mayors, who still maintain open dump sites. They have been sued in court.
Ildefonso cited Santo Tomas, Batangas as a model of solid waste management. The town used to generate 360,000 tons of garbage a day. But after NSWMC taught the local officials how to do composting, daily waste generation was reduced to merely six tons. But compliance with the law leaves much to be desired. For instance, out of 82 provinces in the Philippines, only Cavite has so far submitted its Provincial Solid Waste Management Plan.
Armando Garcia, President of the Metro Clark Waste Management Corporation, talked about Metro Clark’s landfill project and the benefits indirectly accruing to the environment as well as directly to their employees.
Ronel Dizon, Swine Maintenance Supervisor of Fil-Am Foods, showed how waste turned into biogas is saving the company almost 1 million pesos a year in their swine project in Capas, Tarlac. Dizon said that “50% of the waste can be addressed by composting” and that we need to spend 13 billion pesos for one incinerator. The forum also featured lectures on how to get financing for solid waste management projects.
Anita Celdran, country manager of Endesa Carbono discussed “Carbon Financing and Clean Development Mechanism” as sources of funds and incentives for waste management project developers. Laurie Navarro, country representative of Eco-Asia, talked about fund sourcing for waste management projects.
Ma Theresa Capellan, Adviser of the Swine Board of the Philippines, talked about “Opportunities in Electricity Markets: RPS & FIT-All.” John Lindborg, advisor of the Asian Development Bank, spoke on Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Agreements, pointing out that it was President Fidel Ramos who dramatically used PPP to solve the energy crisis during his administration.
Gene David of the Land Bank of the Philippines spoke on “Program Loans for Zero Waste” and pointed out, among other things that, the Land Bank finances feasibility studies.
Indeed, a Zero Waste Philippines is doable if we have the right green culture mentality.